Birzh (Biržai )

Biržai (Birzh), in Northern Lithuania, Honors Holocaust Victims at Forest Mass Grave Site; But City-Center Museum Honors the Collaborators



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

This weekend, the new monument to 2,400 Biržai Jews, massacred on August 8, 1941, will be unveiled in Biržai, a town in northern Lithuania known in Yiddish as Birzh. On that fateful day in Pakamponys forest, German Gestapo officers and their Lithuanian accomplices murdered 900 children, because they were Jewish children, 780 women, because they were Jewish women, and 720 men, because they were Jewish, too. The locals call the site “the Biržai Jews’ grave”.

That day, more than one third of the inhabitants of that old historical city were massacred. A vibrant community was destroyed and trust in Biržai as a safe place to live was wholly undermined. This old wound had not been taken care of properly up until now. There is a memorial stone at the site of the massacre, the site itself is covered with tiles. There is a memorial inscription, too. However, all those people with their lives and their dreams remained but a number in stone. People behind the new memorial decided to fix this, and now we have more than five hundred names carved on a steel wall. This difficult task required a lot of effort. Alongside with the people, the murderers also destroyed the documents attesting to their lives.

What does the Town’s Official Museum Think?

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Posted in Birzh (Biržai ), Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Biržai (Birzh), in Northern Lithuania, Honors Holocaust Victims at Forest Mass Grave Site; But City-Center Museum Honors the Collaborators

August and September 2016 Memorials for Destroyed Jewish Communities



Summer and Fall 2016: 75th Anniversary

of the Nazis’ annihilation, with vast local collaboration, of Lithuania’s Jews in the towns, villages, provinces; implementation of ghettoization and mass murder in the cities.

Perhaps among the simplest, most minimalist measures of a municipality’s sincerity (beyond PR bonanzas, photo-ops and legitimizations via useful foreigners): (a) Modest town-center information board on the origins, history, culture, contributions and (true) fate of the town’s Jewish citizens; (b) Rapid removal of any local shrines, street names, museum tributes etc. to the local collaborators and murderers. “You just can’t make heroes out of the killers and expect to cover it up with some annual PR event for the foreigners.”

Language and respect for the victims: In addition to Lithuanian and English, will new memorial texts (including those at forest mass graves and old cemeteries) continue to include Yiddish, the language of 100% of the murdered Jews in all these towns? For many years, Lithuania has had a uniquely admirable record in this regard.

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Posted in Birzh (Biržai ), Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Shádov (Šeduva) | Comments Off on August and September 2016 Memorials for Destroyed Jewish Communities